"motoring" and other "obsolescent" words

Kathleen E. Miller millerk at NYTIMES.COM
Fri Apr 26 17:19:49 UTC 2002

Don't know of their scholarly significance but here's what's on our shelves
for "old" or "obsolescent" words.

Forgotten English, Jeffrey Kacirk. New York: William & Morrow, 1997

Lost Beauties of the English Language, Charles Mackay. London: Bibliophile,

Dictionary of Archaic Words, James Orchard Halliwell. London: Bracken
Books, 1989 (Originally published 1850 by John Russell Smith, London.) That
one should be interesting.

Kathleen E. Miller
Research Assistant to William Safire
The New York Times

At 12:19 PM 4/26/02 -0400, you wrote:
>In a message dated Fri, 26 Apr 2002 10:56:48 AM Eastern Daylight Time,
>James Kossuth <jkossuth at MERRIAM-WEBSTER.COM> writes:
> >Can anyone suggest a good book on the subject
> >of words that have been supplanted by others?
> >I'm looking for something that chronicles the
> >changes in word use over time, esp. in the US,
> >e.g., "motoring" replaced by "driving."
> >
> >Thanks for any leads,
> >
> >James.
>Here's a thought:  go into any decent bookstore and leaf through the
>paperbacks of individual Shakespeare plays.  You will find them full of
>footnotes, most of which are there to explain words which have either
>dropped out of English use or which have changed their meanings.
>Many editors have composed such footnotes.  Wouldn't at least one have
>decided to go whole hog and publish a reference book on how to footnote
>Elizabethan writers for 20th/21st Century audiences?
>If you can't find such reference works via the Web, you might contact the
>Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington DC.  The Folger is the USA's
>best-known, if not the best, center for the _textual_ (as opposed to
>literary) study of Shakespeare, and I presume other Elizabethan/Jacobean
>writers as well, including the group that produced the "King James" Bible.
>In a message dated Thu, 25 Apr 2002  7:10:02 PM Eastern Daylight Time,
>Wendalyn Nichols <wendalyn at NYC.RR.COM> writes:
> >'Obsolescent' is indeed the term, although few dictionaries make such nice
> >distinctions in their labeling--I suspect because it's easier to wait until
> >there's a consensus on a term being obsolete than it is to agree about its
> >relative obsolescence.
>Interesting: a rather archaic use of the word "nice".
>     - James A. Landau
>"The word "obsolescent" is itself obsolescent."  - Rachel Landau

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